One tree at a time: Canada’s forests
What is the one habitat type that runs through every province and territory, surrounds communities where most Canadians live and covers about one-third of the country? If you guessed forests, you would be right!
We’re lucky to live in a country dominated by leafy giants. Roughly 3.5 million km2 of Canada is covered in forest. If we include smaller trees found along the northern border of the boreal forest to the treeline (referred to as Taiga) near the top of the territories, about half of Canada is forest. Canadians steward a whopping 25 per cent of the planet’s most intact and pristine forests.
Canada’s forests are special places of irreplaceable beauty and significant biodiversity. They are an important part of every Canadian’s life. Forests purify water, regulate and cool climate, absorb atmospheric carbon dioxide, produce oxygen and provide habitat and shelter for countless species. In fact, more than half of Canada is forested, and we have a responsibility to protect our country's forests.
There are eight different forest types across Canada. The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) works in each of these, and each has its own unique characteristics and needs:
This forest region boasts a rich diversity of more than 60 tree species, including yellow birch, red spruce, American beech and sugar maple.
Close to 75 per cent of the country’s forests are found in the boreal zone. In fact, Canada’s boreal forests are some of the largest and most intact forests left on Earth.
At just one per cent of Canada’s landmass, Ontario’s Carolinian forests support almost 25 per cent of our country’s species at risk, including Acadian flycatcher and cucumber tree.
Found along Canada’s west coast, coastal temperate forests occupy less than one-fifth of one per cent of the Earth’s surface.
This forest region occurs at lower elevations along river valleys and is interspersed with subalpine forests.
Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest
A mix of coniferous and deciduous trees, including white pine, sugar maple, yellow birch and eastern hemlock, can be found in this region.
This forest region of central British Columbia and western Alberta is one of the warmest and driest ecoregions in Canada.
Avalanches play an important role in this forest’s diversity and disturbance.
Since 1962, NCC has helped protect 1,005,073 acres (406,739 hectares) of forested habitat across Canada. That's larger than the combined areas of Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Vancouver.
Canada's forest facts
Here are some facts about forests that can be found on properties owned and managed by NCC across Canada:
NCC’s largest protected forest:
Darkwoods, British Columbia. This 136,000-acre (55,000-hectare) privately owned conservation area is largely covered in globally rare inland temperate rainforest.
NCC’s most northern property with forest:
Harvie, D., Alberta (near Fort McMurray)
NCC’s most southern property with forest:
Stone Road Alvar, Ontario
NCC’s most eastern property with forest:
Maddox Cove Nature Reserve, Newfoundland and Labrador
NCC’s most western property with forest:
Kumdis River Conservation Area, British Columbia (on Haida Gwaii)
Most globally endangered forest species on NCC property:
Boreal felt lichen (International Union for Conservation of Nature critically endangered), found on NCC properties in Atlantic Canada